On my way to intercession this afternoon, I came across a couple of kids fighting across the street from church. They were surrounded by a mixed audience of children of about the same age. I beeped my horn and told them to stop fighting at once. They considered their options, retrieved backpacks, and continued on their way home. As it was likely that the fight would resume once they turned the corner, I turned the car around, wound down the window and put my flashers on, creeping alongside them and yes, I was intent on following them home. I wasn’t certain what would happen when I got there, but for the moment it was enough to give everyone a chance to cool down. Silently, I prayed they’d become a generation of peacemakers.
After they had recovered from the shock that I was in fact escorting them home and I had declined an offer of potato chips, I told them that I’d stopped fighting in 5th grade when it occurred to me that I had a choice that would set the tone for my life then and there. I added that third grade reading levels are used to determine the location of new prison construction, that I work at the local community college, had gone all the way in school, and had high expectations for each of them.
When I mentioned that I had been on my way to the church they’d been fighting in front of, Aguilas, three of the maybe seven youths volunteered which churches they attended: Mountaintop, Shadow Ridge & New Antioch. Among the many thoughts that arose since this afternoon the one I most want an answer to is, what can we do to discourage bystander behavior in the body of Christ?
They say home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. This may be true in most cases but for this immigrant at least, home has been a slightly more complicated concept for longer than I can remember. I say longer than I can remember because, taken together, my own experience and that of the generations’ on both sides dating as far back as Charlemagne if Uncle Arthur’s research is conclusive, record every shade of motivation known to humanity for planting and uprooting our family.
I got my first passport a few months shy of my third birthday. The occasion? We were being reunited with our mother after nearly a year’s separation. She had gone to ‘America’ to advance her education – at least so several of her inner circle thought according to the letters (forthcoming) written to her during that year. It was the year of the worst hurricane on record for the region – 1963, and also the year Miss Jamaica won the Miss World crown, half a century ago.
Who would have guessed then that the little island girl presumed mute by all beyond the family would find herself and call it home, not once, but twice, on a cold little cape at the end of the train line somewhere in Massachusetts. One of the things that keeps me coming back here is the neighborliness. Friendships forged 20 years ago pick up where they left off without skipping a beat. Initially, I came for a visit to see friends along the coast I hadn’t seen in years. At one fortuitous dinner, a fellow girl geek – a regular at the monthly gatherings that have continued in my absence, offered me her house and car for the month she’d be away working on a database in Washington State. Naturally, I went home for my dog and returned. One month turned into a summer with the possibility of a winter rental and a writing gig that appears to be tailor-made for my mind and heart.
Carless and carefree, I let someone know I’d be coming back to town from the town next door this evening, cutting it close for the bus schedule. She called on her way up from the museum to see if I ‘d made it and reached me by phone while I was walking my dog and she was cruising the aisles at our favorite second hand store – the one where I picked up curtains and rod this afternoon for $10. So I mentioned that I’d left my water bottle there and she dropped it off on her way home. Where else, if not small town America. Sure, you’re always in a fishbowl but it beats crabs in a barrel corporate America hands down.
We’re heading to a retreat with church this weekend. The plan is to write longhand and dictate to Day One Journal when I have bathroom breaks and a strong enough signal. The last retreat we attended revealed little appreciation on other’s part that writing could be one’s ministry and a form of thanksgiving to God. I think I should at least manage 750 words each day to keep my streak going and then add my daily words on the My Nanowrimo site.
Just checking in to wish all the other Wrimos out there words flowing with purpose and panache! I’ve just tried laying out paperback and eBook versions of what I’ve got so far – to encourage myself that I can reach the 50K words in 30 days goal – on lulu.com & fastpencil.com It makes editing easier, especially on an iPad if you click on the eBook beta format. I also pass along the wise words received in today’s Note From The Universe: Declare and exclaim your intentions and then, git ‘er done!
Like other writers for whom writer stereotypes are ‘freakishly accurate’, my childhood was rife with invitations to isolate and better left forgotten. Enter the wordpress daily writing challenge: Write page three of your autobiography. Into that ring, I toss my cookies. Why discard a perfectly good hat when I wear it so well?
Shortly after my second birthday, legend has it that my mom put on the family’s pants and high-tailed it to ‘America’, leaving Dad, Sis and I to fend for ourselves. Judging from the letters he wrote her, (and I inherited upon their demise) the year before our reunion was an eventful one indeed. Apparently, Flora, ‘one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on record’ visited Jamaica, and left a rather nasty calling card. There was the expected damage to roofs, landscaping and roadways but we apparently faced an additional contest -rats. Apparently, they are not given to going down with a sinking ship.
Week after week, I sat at my father’s knee as he chronicled the daily household events for my mother’s “benefit”. I am certain other descriptors could be there employed but the relationship between husband and wife, I am learning, is one hard to fathom by outsiders – even or especially, their children. Perhaps he wrote to relieve the stress that comes from having no acceptable answers for the question that was always being put to him: “Where’s Mummy?”
Week after week, another nursemaid hit the road, prompted either by my older sister or my father’s. Nurse Ratchet would pale by comparison. As the director of the island’s first private and still operating nursing home, my Aunt faced the standard-issue patriarchy and cronyism for which her era is known. Never married, she retired from day to day oversight of the nursing home only when her eyesight failed at the age of 92.
I know this was supposed to be about me – and it is in the roundabout way that all subjects one writes about are about self – but I’ve run out of time and perhaps interest. Maybe this is why I have not ‘published’. You’d never even guess this was going to be about my first kiss at 16 in that shag covered minivan…
Thanksgiving is coming. Instead of approaching it with trepidation and preparing for the spin cycle of shopping, supping, packaging and posting, why not slow things down and look for an opportunity to rest in Jesus’ arms?
Joey LeTourneau encourages us with the following words of faith:
“The Papa Tuck” resembles the cocoon, crawling up into Papa God’s arms, letting go of everything else, and just enjoying His heartbeat and embrace, knowing that those very moments are more powerful and more productive than anything else we could do. We could keep striving like the caterpillar and inch forward little by little, maybe even take another scoot toward breakthrough, or we can celebrate such closeness with our Creator tucked into the living peace that births impossible fruit.
Cocoon Sculpture by Natalie Tyler